Mend that torn ligament with THRICES

Racing down the steps on the train to get to the door, I stumbled, skipped a step and took a tumble. Fellow passengers caught me so I didn’t land on my head. However I knew I had it bad. My right foot didn’t feel right. With support I got off the train. Riding up in the elevator to the walkway, a slight wobble made my right foot press on the floor. Before I knew it, waves of nausea hit and I crumpled to the floor, passing out. In seconds, my kind co-passengers called 911. Firemen, first response unit and paramedics arrived in that order, taking me to the ER. Luckily X-ray revealed nothing broken, but I had severely torn ligaments, which was why the awful pain, doctor explained. Gave me crutches and a sweet friend took me home. And that’s where this post begins.

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Waiting in wheelchair for x-ray

Dear reader, have you ever torn a ligament? The pain!! Ever wondered why it happened? Could be like me you were rushing around and didn’t pay attention. In yoga, injuries and falls have a message in them. The universe sends us messages in many many forms, through family, friends and injuries sometimes. My message was pretty loud and clear. I’ve been running around a lot lately trying to pack in too much. I needed to slow down. I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t got this rude awakening. Forced to stay home and recover, I couldn’t drive as this was my driving foot. I couldn’t go shopping which is such a passion. I couldn’t even cook. Try standing on one foot only :) My life pretty much came to a standstill. I spent the last couple of days just recovering, receiving delicious meals lovingly prepared by friends. Resting a lot, sleeping a lot, meditating a lot and just getting that much needed rest I hadn’t allowed my body.

When I posted my status on Facebook, friends chipped in with offers of help and some great mnemonics on how to recover.This one stayed with me, but I’ve added my own extra elements to it. My friend suggested RICE, I turned it around to THRICES

T turmeric
H Humour
R Rest
I Ice
C Compress
E Elevate
S Stretch

Turmeric is a great anti-inflammatory. Mix 1 tsp turmeric with 1 tsp coconut oil to make a thick paste. Apply to inflamed part and let dry. Wear an old pair of socks, I wore a pair of old tights and then socks on top to keep the foot a little compressed with the paste. Apsara secret- you can always make turmeric paste by mixing water with turmeric. 20150322_220312But best benefits when turmeric is dissolved in fat. Curcumin, the main component of turmeric is fat soluble. I suggested coconut oil, but any fat will do. Turmeric is supposed to speed up healing time by 3 times. Now why would you say NO to that yellow foot when you know you’re helping that poor foot heal & move away from pain?

Humour.. can you laugh? Easy right. Anyone can laugh, especially at your own self. I found my swollen foot quite fascinating, Being a skinny kind of girl, I’ve always dreamed of a chubby figure. I know, I know, the grass is always greener, others want skinny. I’ve thought I’d look attractive if I gained a few pounds. I’m not to blame! Blame it 20150319_142741on my upbringing. In Delhi, a chubbier girl :) is prized!!. at least used to be the case when i lived there. But that’s not happening – this is my body type and that’s what its going to be. I can’t help smiling at the contrast between my feet. and thinking what a popular girl I would be,, for those men who like to see a little plumpness around feet :)
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Rest was what I got a lot of. I didn’t do any thinking activity even. I just took a complete break. My foot was badly injured. It needed all the attention possible from me and from everyone. Think about it. All the body’s intelligence is now on high alert. All resources are being directed to my foot to help aid the healing process. If I started to divert attention through engaging the intellect, chances of recovery would slow down. As my mind would use up those valuable resources.

Ice helped. My foot had a lot of inflammation. A thoughtful friend 20150322_215335brought me an ice pack from the drugstore. The idea behind ice is its role in reducing pain and inflammation. Cold ice reduces blood flow to the damaged ligament. That is supposed to lower the speed that nerve cells send electrical signals. Lowering tissue temperature also slows down inflammation. And that cuts down pain. Apsara secret – I used ice intermittently as ice can also slow down my own body’s immune system and  prevent my body from repairing itself. Besides, the ice pack does get to room temperature soon and needs another stint in the freezer before its ready to reuse. No ice pack, no worries, put your frozen peas from your freezer to good use. Place it on your swollen foot and tie a towel on top.

20150322_215236Compression on a torn ligament helps ease the pain and reduces swelling. Wrap an elastic bandage from mid-calf down to your toes. The bandage should be tight, but it should not cut off the circulation. Apsara tip – No bandage, no worries, use regular socks on top of cut off nylons. That will do the trick.


Elevate
the injured limb above your heart whenever possible to help prevent or limit swelling. Elevate to decrease bleeding. Elevate to drain excess fluid from injured area. I did some yoga moves. Doing dishes at the kitchen sink while standing on one foot, I managed to rest and elevate, how’s that :) for a 2-for-1?

Stretching is good. You don’t have to stay in bed all the time. Nor do you have to bre20150321_205442akout into an intense workout routine. But you can surely do a few stretches. As I hobbled on my crutches, I didn’t lay much weight on my injured foot, but I did turn it one time externally and the next step internally. Bit by bit, i want to wakeup my poor foot. If you decide to do a few stretches do them in moderation. And by all means, stretch the rest of your body, its ok right, it doesnt have to go all inactive on you! :)

Here is another opinion I’d like to leave you with, so you can make an informed approach to your own ligament healing. This medical doctor doesn’t believe in ice or rest!! 

Your ligaments are tough, elastic-like bands. They connect bone to bone and hold your joints in place. A sprain is an injury to a ligament caused by tearing of the fibers of the ligament. The ligament can have a partial tear, or it can be completely torn apart. I don’t know if mine was partial or not, just that the pain was excruciating!!!

Its 4 days since I twisted my foot, and I’m on the path to recovery. The most important tool is my cheer. Can’t emphasize having a positive attitude enough. It helps the healing process as endorphins can flood your body with much needed healing energy!! Stay healthy.and let me know. Did you find my post helpful? What else do you do?

–charuyoga–

Spring is in the air with pan roasted Brussel sprouts

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YAY and YES! Warm weather is upon us.

How do you know? Do you rely on the groundhog to make a surface appearance? Or do you listen to the weather man anxiously waiting for plus temperatures? Or are you like me, going by the produce section in my grocery store?

Brussel sprouts have arrived !This deserves a trumpet call, don’t you think?

We are all tired of this super long winter with too many freezing rain days. We are tired of eating root vegetables daily. We are tired of wearing many layers weighing us down.

We want warm sunshine and light. We want fresh vegetables that grow above the soil. We are tired of hiding ourselves in thick winter gear. At last, we can do all of the above.

Looking at those Brussel sprouts I instantly knew the treatment I would give them. By the way I had no intention of buying them. I went in to get some treats for my yoga class today when these B. Sprouts caught my eye. There was no looking back.

2 cups Brussel sprouts, washed
1 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
Spice Mix
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp curry leaves
2 dry red chillies
½ tsp urad dal
Pinch hing
Salt to taste
1 tbsp coconut oil

Method

• Wash Brussel sprouts thoroughly in water. Remove outer woody leaves and cut into halves.

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• Steam them for about 5 minutes so they are cooked but still retain their firm texture.

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• Heat oil in pan. Add mustard seeds, when they splutter, add urad dal, curry leaves, dry red chili and hing. Saute till they turn golden.

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• Toss steamed Brussel sprouts in pan. Saute till they are lightly roasted. Sprinkle Himalayan sea salt

• Serve with basmati rice.

health benefits
Brussels sprouts, contains sulforaphane, a phytochemical under basic research for its potential anticancer properties. Although boiling reduces the level of sulforaphane, steaming and stir frying do not result in significant loss. Brussels sprouts are also a source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical being studied for how it affects DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells in vitro.

Yum! This is a light meal, a great forbearing of things to come. SPRING in all its lightness is here!!!

–charuyoga–

Many layers of indian vegetarian cooking and my food handler certificate

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‘Ooh, What’s that appetising smell’?, asked my coworker as she walked into the staff lobby at lunchtime. ‘I knew its your lunch rightaway. What do you have? OMG its so, so fragrant’, she said as she peered into my Tupperware.

That’s a pretty awesome segway into today’s women’s day post. My coworker is not alone in loving Indian food. Everyone just loves the special spices that go into Indian food. When its lovingly home cooked, it takes food up a notch. Once you’ve eaten a home cooked Indian meal, life will never be the same again :) There is a lot of magic happening. I’ll try to break it down just a wee bit in my post today.

The main ingredient is
rasa (Sanskrit: रस lit. ‘juice’ or ‘essence’)

Rasa is juice that appeals to every sense. Really, really top notch Indian vegetarian food takes it one step further. Beyond juice, it uses colour artistically. It layers foods in interesting combinations, never repeating the same flavour twice in a meal. My lunch today that my coworker was raving about WAS juicy.

I made garlic cabbage tomato curry, ginger black eyed beans with mustard seeds and shredded coconut. I served it with basmati rice pulao sautéed with green beans and this very special spice.. gives it a smoky flavour. Hint, you can see it in the pix above, in the pulao :) If you guess right, I have a giveaway. If you live in the Greater Toronto area, I’m giving away a complementary yoga class. Check the side bar for locations. And If you live outside, I will mail you a treat.

I received this lovely surprise in the mail. My food handler certificate has arrived. I passed the exam and am now certified.

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Don’t you like the wording on the letter. I’ve been cooking now for over 30 years.

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I guess the signs are clear now. Its time to share my knowledge with everyone. I’ve been doing that though my catering to friends and coworkers who simply can’t get enough of the tasty vegetarian/vegan meals I bring them. I’ve been blogging about my recipes. Often they are unique as I take ancient secret recipes. Add a modern healthy twist to them. I’ve been asked to teach cooking lessons to american friends. Will do that next. I’m really excited about my food handler certificate. Can’t wait to share my knowledge with you all. Tell, me what would you like to hear more of from me.

–charuyoga–

5 plant based things I put on my face

Yes, I did a complete switch to plant based cosmetic products. It happened over the past maybe 9 months as I started hanging out a bit with vegans. Today’s post continues this week’s women’s day theme (honouring the feminine and taking care of our beautiful face) Here’s what I love for :

1. Mineral powderPure anada, a Canadian company based out of Calgary knows their minerals.. I’ve used their mineral powder before and it wasn’t a surprise that I returned to the same colour, cappuccino again to match my skin tone.

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2. Mascara100% pure makes a vegetarian mascara. When I found out this mascara is made from black tea and berries, I fell in love with the very idea. It does contain beeswax though so its not completely vegan. My poor eyes have always been really sensitive to makeup. I’ve cried many tears in the past whenever I wore mascara, so much that I stopped wearing it altogether. This fruit based mascara is divine and has vitamin E so it coats & protects my eyelashes.

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3. Lipstick – My favourite shade is a deep red. Think Hollywood glamour. When I found out that beetles are crushed to get that carmine red, I threw away my Dior lipstick and completely stopped wearing lipstick. I did miss it though. So when I discovered the ZUZU lipstick from Gabriel cosmetics makes vegan lipsticks, you can imagine how I died and went to heaven :)  Added bonus, if you are gluten-free, their lipsticks are gluten free too. The one I got was, you guessed right a deep, deep red called Femme Fatale :)

zuzu femme fatale

4. Lipgloss – The cutest vintage packaging. Pandora makes a great vegan lipgloss. I first saw it in PharmaPlus, a Canadian pharmacy. I just love its light glide.  I love to wear a simple coat of lipgloss for most days, keeps lips moisturized!! This one is reasonably priced and the lipgloss stays on for hours and is not sticky like some other lip glosses which stick to everything including your winter scarf. They used to make me feel like I had wool strands on my lips all the time. Not so with Pandora. Its also vegan and paraben free. If I were you, I would stock up on this lipgloss. 

maplesyrup

5. Foundation – if you need to protect your skin from the sun, yes even in winter, then it’s a good idea to wear a foundation, even something light. A light protection is not just about covering your skin, but actually protecting it from damage from the elements, esp. the sun. I got the ZUZU oil free foundation again from Gabriel cosmetics, gluten free, mineral based from the Big carrot, a massive health food store in Toronto’s greek town. I can’t sing the praises of the helpful staff enough. Every time I go there, I feel as if I’m in a village store. The staff is attentive, helpful and very very knowledgeable. I don’t know the colour I bought, it’s a tan shade and the sales staff did a very good job of matching it with my skin tone.

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Hope you found my review helpful. If you are considering a plant based makeup switch, let me know.. Happy to provide tips..or even hear your comments on your journey to plant based living!

Here’s a quote that sums up yoga’s principle of Ahimsa, or non-violence, the first restraint of yoga, which says to be gentle with all living beings, not just other humans. Plant based cosmetics are a nice first step don’t you think..

“Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages” ~ Thomas Edison

–charuyoga–

Power of the positive

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You are a breath of fresh air!’ said a stranger on a phone conversation last night.. He found it surprising how I keep up my attitude despite some pretty serious setbacks in life!!

‘You are a joy to be around!’, exclaimed my coworker today! There’s too much negativity in life. Its great to see your joyful nature she said.

‘You are so positive!’, commented my sweet yoga participant, as she stopped by my desk to ask how my car was doing! When I laughingly explained how I was stranded and how it was bitterly cold. While my phone died and my car battery died at the same time!

Now dear reader, these words were too much of a coincidence from the universe. There was a message in all of this. That came out loud and clear. And that was..to carry on the women’s week theme..to write a post today about the power of the positive.

There is a good deal of research out there that you can find on the positive. But I’m not going to walk the research talk today. I’m here to share what positivity does for me. And what it can also do for you.

  • Positive is magnetic.
  • Positive is fun, light-hearted, and playful.
  • A positive nature draws people in without even trying.
  • Positive is energy that’s upward moving. Its light, frothy and bubbly.
  • Positive is mostly never serious. A positive person doesn’t take herself too seriously.
  • It makes me feel giddy, happy and joyful and able to ride the somewhat bumpy waves of life with ease.
  • Negativity can keep you interested only so long & then it gets boring. Hanging out with positive people makes you feel good.
  • A positive attitude raises your energy level and vibrations to match with the vibrations of the universe. You knew this was coming right :)  this is a yoga blog after all!

pandara road1

Here I am with my siblings.. My lovely aunt brought us these amazing gifts all the way from the US to Delhi. My brother got a rocket. My sister a pretty doll in a cradle. While someone helped themselves to my doll. My parents bought me a cloth doll to take her place. Did that make me happy? You bet it did. My toothy smile says it all.

When you are joyful, when you say yes to life and have fun and project positivity all around you, you become a sun in the center of every constellation, and people want to be near you.”
― Shannon L. Alder

Wouldn’t you like to shine warm and bright like the sun? Then why not try this. Take on positivity, even if just for a few minutes. See how it feels. Pop me a note to tell me how that felt..I’d like to share and enjoy your positivity just as I’m sure you enjoyed reading about the power of the positive in this post..

–charuyoga–

365 days of gratitude and a scarf for a homeless man

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2014 saw me being grateful every single day. I remembered my gratitude journal when I was chatting with someone today about the power of gratitude. You can read my 365 days gratitude journal here.

What did the power of gratitude do for me?

  • Gratitude made me very happy every day.
  • It showed me what an amazing full life I have.
  • It reminded me of all the great and amazing people who enter my life.
  • It opened my life up to acknowledge all the lovely gifts I got from friends and strangers.
    Gifts magically kept appearing without my asking. Interesting coincidences would happen. I’d lose my yoga mat on the yoga retreat. On my return home a friend would send me a note asking me to review a yoga mat that she had made
  • It opened me up to increased positivity in my life. I consider myself pretty positive and tend to look at the bright side of things, but this daily gratitude really brought out the optimist in me ten-fold. I simply had no time for creating negativity.
  • Knowing that I was writing a gratitude journal that my friends read every day on my facebook page also kept me accountable. It made me watch for extraordinary moments in my day. I became more aware and more sensitive to what was going on around me.
  • Being grateful made me approach life and every day with a sense of wonder and magic. Every morning I’d wake up to this thought -What am I going to find in my magic pot to express gratitude for ?
  • Gratitude removed any darkness or thoughts of sadness that I might feel, Instead in its place I got a rush of positive energy filling my body with endorphins, as If I had just done my favourite yoga pose or swam in the atlantic ocean.
  • I truly believe gratitude kept me healthy all of last year and its effects are still lasting.
  • It inspired my friends to start their own gratitude journal.

Most of all, being grateful for what I have ..created more abundance in my life. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more I was grateful for what I have, the more I got.

Gratitude is like sending a thank you note to a favourite aunt for her lovely and thoughtful birthday gift. Next time she’s probably going to remember my note and treat me once again.

The universe is quite like that favourite aunt. Thank her and she likes to give you more gifts. Don’t send her a thank you note and she won’t bother with you next time. She’ll probably think it’s a waste of time giving you anything and turn her attention to someone who does appreciate her. I don’t know if it’s a fact, but I do feel this about the universe very strongly in my intuition.

I didn’t expect this result when i started. I just believed that being grateful was somehow the right thing to do :) after I heard a discourse by a spiritual master in the bahamas over christmas 2013. She said ‘in the himlayan mountains where I live and teach, the villagers don;t have much, not even footwear. they wander barefeet. But they do have lots of one thing-gratitude and contentment. They are happy with what they have. Meanwhile I visit you all here. With all your comforts i Keep hearing you say you dont have anything. Learn from the himalayan villagers, practice gratitude”. those words stayed with me. On my return home, I started a 365-day gratitude journal and the results were phenomenal as you can tell.

This year I haven’t actually written a lot in my gratitude notebook. But I feel incredibly grateful for the cars that wait in line at the train station waiting for us to make a left turn, before they can drive on.

Gratitude makes me feel even more connected to everything and everyone around me. My gratitude journal brought tears to my eyes on many occasions. It made me realize I’m not alone in this world. There’s an infinite network of support crisscrossing my path in life and helping me daily.

In the spirit of this women’s day week, I finished the scarf I was knitting for my homeless man in Toronto. I’m pretty lucky to have a room over my head in the cold winter months and a comfortable and pretty home to sleep in. Meanwhile there are tons of homeless people in the city of Toronto who shiver in the extreme cold winter we have been having. I started knitting this scarf in the Bahamas over Christmas at my yoga retreat. Every evening during the chants, and service, I’d knit away furiously wanting to capture the energy of those positive chants and put them into the knitting.

A little boy was fascinated. came close up trying to learn to knit. asked me why ! when I told him to keep a homeless man warm, he said delightfully “its cold in New York, will you knit me a scarf to keep me warm too” of course I can’t resist a smile like that, would you?

10888457_10153020409679468_375319162716626378_nso I went off to the main island market to buy him special wool.. and managed to knit his scarf. someone commented, with all the prayers & chanting in the evening program, entering the scarf, its going to be one very lucky homeless man.

I hope to find my homeless friend tomorrow to give him his scarf. Do you think he will like this infinity scarf to wrap him in warmth?

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Try gratitude some time. It will keep you joyful and healthy. It will remind you of your connection to the world. It will keep you plugged into the world, you will have all the support you need in the work you do.

I’ll leave you with final words from Patanjali, a yogi from 2000 years ago–
Patanjali wrote – practicing santosha(contentment, or appreciation for what you have) leads to unexcelled joy. Human beings seem to forever seek satisfaction from the external world and our internal fantasies. When we comfortably accept what we currently have we can get unparalleled happiness and contentment.

–charuyoga–

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Creamy lentil soup for women’s day

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What would you say if you I gave you my recipe for the slurpiest soup possible? And what would you say if I showed you how to remove too spicy indian flavours with a quick and healthy tip. And what if I showed you a clever way to get creamy soup with texture, no butter, and still pass the taste winner test.

This soup has all that and much much more.

True. I got the idea to prepare it to share with my yoga class today for a women’s day special class. But it took all the effort on my part to stop slurping down this soup after the 4th helping. Literally I had to cover up the soup and get away from the kitchen to stop finishing it up completely.

½ cup whole indian black lentils(urad dal)
not to be confused with small black lentils

¼ cup red kidney beans
½ cup red onions, sliced
½ cup tomatoes, cubed
1 tbsp fresh garlic, chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
Spice Mix
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp turmeric
Pinch hing
Salt to taste
2 tbsp coconut oil

Method
• Wash lentils thoroughly several times in water. Soak black lentils and red kidney beans separately in 1 cup water each overnight.

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• 12 hours later, wash and rinse lentils again.

• Soak black lentils and red kidney beans separately in 1 cup water each.

Apsara tip – This step is really important as you will see later how the black lentils are pureed but the red kidney beans stay whole adding cream & texture to this amazing soup without any butter . Cook till soft. I bring out my pressure cooker anytime there are lentils on the horizon. Set aside to cool.

• In pan, heat 1 tbsp oil. Add cumin, turmeric, cayenne and hing. Then quickly add the onions, ginger and garlic. Saute till soft. toss in tomatoes. When tomatoes are cooked and water separates from the tomato spice mix, you know this is done. Add ¾ of the cooked black lentils to the spice mix. Take off stove. Let cool and then puree in food processor.

• Return pureed tomato onion ginger garlic puree to pan. Add remaining cooked lentils, and kidney beans and salt to taste. Add 2 cups of water. Let everything come to a boil.

• I simply love the swirls and texture in this soup and yes, no butter.

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• Garnish with chopped cilantro. I served it with multigrain crackers. You can serve it with any crusty bread.

Apsara tip – this cayenne was really hot. That’s why I typically hesitate when someone asks me for exact measures. It all depends! On where you get your spices from and how fresh they are. My cayenne was really fresh and pretty hot. My taming tip – I added a dollop of coconut oil to the soup at the end.. Coconut oil has been doing the health rounds for a while now. I am a complete convert and really loved to see little slivers of coconut oil floating on the top of my soup. Gave me huge joy to see this healthy soup become healthier still :)

On the topic of international women’s day, I’ve decided to post daily all week long. So watch out for more interesting posts. As well as yoga posts.

I’m also working on getting my website design re-hauled to make it easy to navigate. You know my day job is in technology, so I have to make sure you are getting the most user friendly experience when you visit my website. Hint: my colours are deep fuschia, black, charcoal grey and white. Do you like them.. I can’t wait to share my logo with you. And lots of freebies that I want to start giving out. As I love to share as you all know.

I took this lentil soup as a treat for my yoga class today. Along with my favourite indian dessert. I love it as Its not too sweet. See if you can take a guess. hint: its main ingredient is a seductive fruit!! Get it right and I’ll send you a little treat.

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–charuyoga–